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Biographical entry Wolfe, Herbert Robert Inglewood (1907 - 1970)

VRD; MRCS 1932; FRCS 1935; MB BS London 1932; MS 1948; LRCP 1932.

10 October 1907
18 February 1970
General surgeon


Bob Wolfe was born in London on 10 October 1907. He came from Eastbourne College to St Thomas's where he qualified in 1932 and where, inspired by his teachers Cyril Nitch and Phillip Mitchiner, he decided on a career of surgery, rather against his father's hopes that they would join in general practice. He took his FRCS in 1935 and moved to Cardiff where he was RSO at the Cardiff Royal Infirmary and then assistant to Lambert Rogers at the Welsh National School of Medicine.

At the outbreak of war in 1939 he was mobilised with the RNVR and served as a surgical specialist in the Middle East, home waters and the Far East.

After the war, Wolfe returned to Cardiff. In 1948 he took the MS, winning the Gold Medal. He was appointed surgeon to University College Hospital in 1949 and clinical assistant at St Mark's Hospital. His surgical interest was now mainly in the field of gastroenterology and by 1951, when he succeeded Sir Clifford Naunton Morgan as surgeon to the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, he was an acknowledged expert in the surgery of the colon and rectum. He was a member of the Council of the Section of Proctology of the Royal Society of Medicine and frequently contributed to its meetings.

Bob was a didactic, concise and very popular teacher, taking endless care in the preparation of his lectures which were usually liberally illustrated with anecdotes. His surgical dressers were personally instructed in the rudiments of practical surgery; they were also exposed to the laughter, fun, infectious enthusiasm and the storms of his rather volatile nature. Bob's parents were both Irish which possibly explains why charm, boyish humour and unpredict┬Čable outbursts were apt to follow each other in rapid succession. As an examiner he was obsessed with the importance of being fair in questioning and marking. His devotion to the needs of the students at sport greatly endeared him to them, both as a teacher and a mentor, for, surgery apart, Bob was a great sportsman.

As a student himself at St Thomas's he was captain of the sailing and swimming clubs. At Cardiff, surf-riding was his passion. When later he joined the staff of UCH he became President of the Rugby Football Club and Commodore of the Hospital Sailing Club as well as Commodore of the United Hospitals Sailing Club. He had started skiing while at St Thomas's and had become a very fine skier. He was also an excellent tennis player, a gifted photographer and a competent cabinet maker. He owned his own yacht, Mouette, and was most generous in giving students the opportunity of sailing in keel boats. Although Bob had been called to see a patient and a student crew was in charge when Mouette blew up and sank at anchor at Burnham, he replaced her with his last boat, Keepsake, and the number of students' signatures in the log book of this yacht testifies to his continued generosity. Hard sailing was his great relaxation but he did it, like everything else, with tremendous zeal.

In 1946 Bob married Lesley Fox and there were four children, of whom the eldest became a medical student. He lived a full life and his family was his greatest love. He died suddenly in his hospital on 18 February 1970.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1970, 1, 634;Lancet 1970, 1, 479].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England